No face-to-face lectures? No problem

Admit it, you probably wouldn’t have gone to those 9ams anyway

Tuesday’s news that lectures would be online for the 2020-21 academic year didn’t particularly faze me: maybe in part because I expected it, or perhaps my position as a history student means that I never quite warmed to the concept of lectures. From receiving lectures on topics you wrote essays on last term, to the inherent awkwardness of history students who, for some reason, insist on leaving a gap in between lecture seats, lectures were by no means the make or break of my time in Cambridge.

In fact, whilst everyone around me was worrying about what this meant for academic rigour, our learning experience or tuition fees, I couldn’t help but fantasise about the newfound benefits online lectures could bring to my life.

Avoiding the short, yet traumatic cycle to Sidgwick

I am ashamed to admit that the five minute cycle has been a significant cause of missed lectures in first year. Yes, fresh air wakes you up and it’s good exercise but it also causes you to arrive to your lecture sweaty, hot and out of breath, clutching your bicycle helmet in hand – in other words, it’s not a look and it definitely does not relax me for the day.

Having to navigate tourists and traffic lights which always change as you get to them (and it’s always when you’re running late), cycling is bad enough on a good day. It’s even worse when it’s raining or you’re hungover and it’s virtually mission impossible if you row. Believe me when I say it’s easier to get Wednesday Cindies tickets than it is to complete an outing, have a crew debrief, whack on some deodorant and whiz to Sidge without being late for a 9am – I cannot wait to have the luxury of watching lectures from my bed. 

Praying the end of online lectures puts a stop to the 5:30am rowing starts

Not having to worry about your appearance in lectures

Online lectures will bless us with not having to show people what you look like at 9am, hungover with very few hours of sleep and I personally cannot wait. Say goodbye to attempting to look nice on the off chance that your lecture crush will write you a crushbridge, or you’ll get spotted for the Tab’s ‘best dressed on Sidge’ (spoiler alert: for some reason both of these have yet to happen) and say hello to lectures in pyjamas. 

Not having to sit alone

So you’ve braved the cycle to Sidgwick, the next obstacle is actually having to sit through the lecture. Being at a 70 per cent STEM college means I have very few history course mates, and even less whom happen to be in my lectures, making lectures a lonesome feat. If you do arrive on time (a rare occurrence) you’re faced with the tortuous dilemma of whether to make small talk with the person next to you, or feign a remarkable interest in your phone screen until the clock handle reaches 9:05. Online lectures may take away the ability to make course friends, but at least I don’t have to blame this on my own awkwardness. 

Me: texting my friends to pretend I was occupied as I sat alone in lectures

No more 9ams

I cannot even fathom how powerful I will be without any 9am (or admit it, 10am) lectures. Sure, the probable lack of club nights restricts the benefits of these, but nevertheless I’m looking forward to being able to work at a time where I can actually think straight, and don’t have to use all my mental energy to merely stay awake. 

Actually being able to see your friends who have more than six contact hours a week

The bane of my life is not being able to see my Natsci friends anytime between 9-5 during the week, or being able to debrief a night out at Saturday brunch due to the horrific number of lectures they have. But online lectures could allow for us to (social distancing regulations dependent) watch lectures in the same room, at a convenient time. Yes it may come at the expense of us being able to receive face-to-face education but surely this is a small price to pay for them to be able to experience brunch.

No more missing lectures to get that hashbrown fix

Being able to pause lectures for important reasons

Examples include napping, grabbing a snack or watching the latest TikTok video your friend has just sent you. Having been scarred in my first term by a lecturer who called out a boy for being on his phone during lectures, all my vital mid-lecture communications have had to happen via Facebook on my laptop, which to be honest isn’t ideal (they have a tendency of opening messages you were trying to avoid). Granted, these distractions will probably make watching lectures take double the time but hey, that’s what the 2x speed function was made for. 

Not having to worry about your laptop dying mid-lecture 

For some reason this was a way too frequent occurrence, mainly because I was too lazy to put my laptop on charge once I had already gotten into bed. Unfortunately, this often resulted in my laptop dying mid-way through lectures on early 20th century Scottish history. Without having the nerve to walk out of the lecture mid-way through, you were left trying – and failing – to remember anything that was said, and regretting your previous lack of consideration. 

The small fortune I will save on coffee 

Without treating myself to an oat milk flat white from the Arc cafe for every single lecture I attend, my bank account won’t know what’s hit it. Sure filter coffee in my room will never be able to compare, but saving money for more important purchases – such as extra hash-browns at brunch – makes it a favourable trade-off.

Lockdown is making me miss my overpriced coffee fix | Credits: Anya Popat

My dignity will be rocket-high without the embarrassment of walking into the wrong lecture

We’ve all been there: walking into a lecture confidently, god forbid maybe even on time, managing to find a seat and sitting there in blissful ignorance until the handout reaches you and your heart sinks as you realise that actually no, you’re not meant to be in this lecture about the French revolution. The embarrassment of having to retreat from the room, and enter your actual lecture (late by this time) makes you wish you hadn’t bothered coming and will leave you triple-checking the lecture noticeboard for the rest of the term. 

Not having to ignore eye contact when lecturers’ ask questions

A 30 second silence has never sounded so awkward as when your lecturer decides to ask the room a question. Your laptop screen has never looked so enthralling and you find yourself praying that the usually annoyingly loud person takes one for the team to end your suffering. Here’s to hoping online lectures fully embrace non-participatory learning for all of our sakes.  

Online lectures are certainly not what anyone signed up for when beginning their degree, and I don’t doubt they will bring real difficulties to learning processes. Yet, I can’t help but feel they will definitely enable my lazy lifestyle – whether that’s a good thing or not we’ll have to wait and see.

Featured image credits: Katie Thacker, Anya Popat 

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